Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Griffey Helps Illini Take Down Gophers; Illinois 57, Minnesota; Team Snaps Long Streak of Road Losses against Ranked Big Ten Opponents

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Griffey Helps Illini Take Down Gophers; Illinois 57, Minnesota; Team Snaps Long Streak of Road Losses against Ranked Big Ten Opponents

Article excerpt

MINNEAPOLIS Illinois nearly ruined a strong nonconference start by losing seven of its first nine Big Ten games to tumble out of the Top 25.

In this loaded league, though, the Illini still have time to catch up. They might have salvaged their season with this week.

Tyler Griffey (Lafayette) scored 16 points, and Illinois made 11 for 23 from 3-point range to beat No. 18 Minnesota 57-53 Sunday.

We feel like we can compete with anybody and we can win any game we play, said Brandon Paul, who had 10 points. The Big Ten is so crazy. Its tough anywhere you go, especially on the road. So you find a way to tough it out.

Three days after Griffeys buzzer-beating layup gave Illinois (17- 8, 4-7) a 74-72 victory over No. 1 Indiana, Tracy Abrams swished a step-back 3-pointer with 18 seconds left to stretch the lead over Minnesota to four. Abrams came off the bench for the first time this season after failing to score against the Hoosiers.

D.J. Richardson added 13 points for the Illini, who ended a 10- game losing streak on the road against ranked Big Ten teams. Their last such win was three years ago at Wisconsin.

One thing that is happening now is that people trust each other, coach John Groce said. They trust the system more. Theyre sticking with the game plan even when theyre behind.

Austin Hollins had 16 points and four steals for the Golden Gophers (17-7, 5-6), who lost for the sixth time in eight games.

Just another blown opportunity for us, said coach Tubby Smith, who lamented his teams turnovers. They had 13, none more costly than with 50 seconds left with Illinois leading 54-53.

Sixth-year senior Trevor Mbakwe, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds, tried to pivot out of a double team down low and threw a two-handed pass across the court out of bounds. Abrams scored on the next trip down the the court. Austin Hollins air-balled a 3-pointer after that.

Elliott Eliason, who filled the minutes of injured Rodney Williams (shoulder), had 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, and swished a mid-range jumper with 2:22 left to pull the Gophers to one point. But they didnt get enough help.

Minnesota, which won in Champaign 84-67 last month while holding the Illini to three-for-24 shooting from 3-point range, were trying to beat Illinois twice in the regular season for the first time since 1996. …

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